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From Ridiculous to the Sublime

The Sept. 6, 2004, issue of The New Yorker was devoted to stories and articles rhapsodizing about food and its potentially seductive intricacies. For example:

  • "There is damn little contentment in humanity today," said one organic farmer. "And most of that is because our food has no contentment itself."
  • This same farmer brews vats of nutrient "teas" made of crushed oyster shells, sea salt, volcanic rock, and molasses and sends it through his irrigation systems. Some days, he sends the plants an infusion of lavender. "A plant doesn't wear dark glasses or anything," this man is quoted as saying. "It will just sit there in its nakedness and show you how it's feeling."
  • In another article, the science of ketchup is painstakingly outlined. Even this fast food staple contains high science and maddeningly subtle variations of mouth and nose sensations.

Rejuvenating Your Sense of Taste

According to Witherly, people can break the fast food, smushy, always-the-same habit. "I don't say get off salt and sugar cold turkey," he says. "But how about just getting off refined sugar, sucrose, and especially high-fructose corn syrup? These increase insulin and lead to fat storage."

Other suggestions to aid your sense of taste:

  • Don't give up carbs, but do stick with complex carbs like whole grains and beans.
  • Don't be afraid to use artificial sweeteners. They can increase endorphins.
  • Try to cut back on salt. At least don't salt before tasting. Or take the shaker off the table. In a week to a month, tops, your old level of saltiness will taste terrible to you.
  • Try salt substitutes such as Parmesan cheese, yeast extracts, or soy sauce.
  • The body craves variety; fast food places don't have enough of it. Some people know the menu by heart. Try for high-volume foods, like salads, that fill you up with less calorie density.
  • Kick the saturated fat habit. Most commercial fries are sizzled in beef fat. Stick with olive oil, fish oils, and flax oils. These are less likely, Witherly says, to be stored as fat in the body.
  • And eat slowly. There is even a movement called Slow Food devoted to langorous eating.

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